Adventures in Writing a Whole Lot of Music

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Heavens! Have I been writing a lot of music for the Festival. It’s been a great experience; I’m learning a lot about writing for new instruments and ensembles, and having fun!

Part of my duties as Composer In Residence include writing 2 pieces for Osceola Middle School (instrumentation: flute/alto sax/trumpet/horn/trombone/toy piano); “Industrial Joy”, and “Play the Room” which is a structured-improv graphic score. These pieces, alongside improvisations with the Fairmount Park Elementary School drummers, will be performed on the Children’s Outreach Concerts on January 5 at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, along with music by USF Music Composition students Logan Barrett and Katlyn Lappert. Also on the concert, Elizabeth Baker and dancer/choreographer Helen Hansen French will perform a section from their recent film collaboration exploring the balance of being an artist-mother.

I had never written for brass before, so I recruited some Reinhardt students to do a reading session of “Industrial Joy”. This was super helpful, and we had a real hoot! Elizabeth gave me some pointers on writing for elementary school kids after I wrote drum parts that I thought were very simple, but in fact were kind of hard. Experiments!

How about a little “Joe the Painter” arranged and expanded for Indian harmonium, mandolin, and cello?

For my Lecture Recital “The Toy Piano as a Compositional Tool”, I’ll be using pieces from my book of toy piano shorts “The Texture of Activity” to illustrate several ideas. Some topics of the lecture include The Range of the Instrument as Useful for Keyboard Percussion, and The Inherent Limitations of the Toy Piano as a Basis for Rhythmically Adventurous Writing. I needed more examples of expanding a toy piano miniature into a larger arrangement, so I’ve been arranging several more of these pieces for the Guest Artists to perform at the lecture. Be sure to check out the other Lectures, by Adam Scott Neal and Alan Shockley!

On January 8 at the final Toy Piano Collaborations concert of the Festival, my piece “Four Thunder Sheets & Lion Roars” will be performed by Guest Artists Amy O’Dell on toy pianos, Erich Barganier on mandolin, Carrie Frey on viola, and Mandy Milliot on cello. You can hear a little MIDI excerpt here. It’s good old fashioned fun!

I am very excited about meeting all the (very impressive!) toy piano composers and enthusiasts at the Festival. CHEERS!







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